Hello, goodbye, again and again

“You missed them. They left two weeks ago for their hometown in Jiangsu.”

The neighbor shivered a little in her shapeless coat while stirring a pot of boiling soup in the tiny room that she shared with her family. She shrugged when I asked for a follow up contact.

I first met the Han sisters a few months ago in the crowded thoroughfare of Old Town Shanghai (上海老城厢). It was surreal, chasing after two girls who were skipping through the alleys without a care in the world. I visited the girls every few weeks, sometimes to drop off sweets, and other times, finding a locked door.

I had given them a framed picture of their portraits as promised. I recalled when I showed up, the little one said solemnly, “I’ve been waiting for you. 1 month to be exact.”

The girls’ parents had worked in Shanghai for several years, and had only recently brought over the younger sister, Hanye for less than 6 months. The older sister Hanbo stayed behind in rural Jiangsu.

Now, it seemed that the whole family has returned home and is believed to have saved up enough money to set up a small business. Maybe Shanghai has become too expensive. Or maybe the family was just tired of being apart.

I never got to say goodbye. Such is the transience of the city.

August 2009


6 Responses to “Hello, goodbye, again and again”

  1. February 25, 2010 at 2:23 am

    This is simply mesmerizing image. It encapsulate all that I like in street photography.

  2. February 25, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I do remember my suggestion, and I noticed that you didn’t follow it 🙂 I still love this picture very much.
    I noticed, by the way, that comment do not appear here – I think that you need to approve them in the admin section.

    • February 25, 2010 at 9:56 am

      It has been approved. I only got to it this morning. But once you leave a comment the first time, any following comments will be automatically posted on the blog. See you on Flickr.

  3. February 25, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I’m so glad that you’re putting these images, and these stories, out there, Sue Anne. One of your best.

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